Industrial lifting: the specialists
By Christian Shelton11 May 2021
Industrial lifting – a broad remit for a niche task. Broad in that so many different types of industry exist, across every city in the world. Niche, however, in the specific lifting requirements the industrial environment imposes – determining which type of industrial crane is best suited to the task: yard, gantry, bridge or mobile cranes, hoists, jacks or perhaps a combination of methods. Manoeuvrability, pick and carry ability, electric power, accuracy, integrated telematics – these are just some of the specific attributes sought in lifting equipment used in industrial environments.
Being a niche seems to have helped protect the industrial lifting sector from being as badly affected by Covid-19 as some other areas of the lifting industry have been.
“The market for industrial cranes remained stable throughout 2020 even with the challenges and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, the presidential election and low oil prices,” said George Schildhouse, inside sales and marketing manager, Broderson Manufacturing.
Broderson is headquartered in Lenexa, Kansas, USA, and manufactures industrial and rough terrain cranes.
The company’s 20 US ton (18 tonne) IC-280 model goes into production this year and Schildhouse said customers will benefit from a significantly longer boom and better capacities than the competition in the 20 ton size class.
“The market is getting stronger despite the pandemic that’s going on,” affirms Ali Lawton, product specialist and trainer, Manitex Valla. “Our strength remains to be our all-electric line of cranes, which have zero emissions. We’ve been seeing an increase in interest as the market is demanding a zero-emission option to replace the traditional equipment powered by internal combustion engines.”
Another area of expansion Lawton identifies is food processing. “A lot of food processing plants that are undergoing modernisation while keeping part of their operation running, will not allow any equipment with internal combustion engines that release harmful particulate pollution that may contaminate their products,” Lawton explains.
Wigan, UK-headquartered machinery moving and installation specialist Ainscough Industrial Services has added to its fleet with the purchase of a Valla 120E pick and carry crane from crane manufacturer Manitex Valla. “The Valla 120E is an excellent crane,” says Steve Edge, group engineering director at Ainscough. “It’s very reliable with very good lifting duties, can pick from the floor, and is very compact. Our teams like Valla cranes. They can be used with confidence, which is crucial given the complexity and challenges of the lifts we carry out in very confined space and to tight timescales.”
The all-electric DC battery powered compact crane has a maximum safe working load (SWL) of 12,000 kg and includes a wrap-around hydraulic luffing fly jib with a 40-degree sweep. It will be based at the company’s Glasgow depot to meet growing demand for its services in Scotland.
Ainscough also used one of its Valla cranes, a 25EL, to help fit out a new canned food factory in Germany. “Our client had been using forklifts for this task,” adds Edge, “but we demonstrated we could deliver significant productivity improvement with a Valla crane.”
Reducing pollution risk in food processing has also been a focus of Wuxi, China-based crane manufacturer Vulcan Cranes. During development of its latest generation of overhead cranes for clean industries the company switched to using synthetic fibre hoist rope as opposed to traditional indoor hoists with steel chains or steel wire.
According to Royal DSM, which made the Dyneema DM20 synthetic fibre hoist rope Vulcan is using, indoor hoists with steel chains or steel wire can introduce steel particles and oil pollution whereas with the synthetic fibre this is avoided.
Another company utilising a fibre rope to avoid contamination in an industrial lifting environment is electrification, robotics, automation and motion technology company ABB. At ABB’s Drives Service Workshop in Leicestershire, UK, it is using a material handling system, incorporating an S-series crane, from Finnish crane manufacturer Konecranes. According to Konecranes, it is the first time it has installed its new generation S-series model crane in the UK.
The system supplied comprises a 16.1 metre span overhead single girder gantry and a 3.29 tonne SWL S-series electric rope hoist. The crane has cross- and long-travel speeds of up to 20 metres per minute and a hoisting speed of up to 3.1 metres per minute, with a 4.29 metre height of lift. The crane is operated via a radio remote control.
The S-series crane uses synthetic rope, which Konecranes says requires no lubrication, eliminating the possibility of delicate electronic components within the drive units being contaminated with oil.
Smooth movement and accurate load positioning, which are critical factors for the workshop’s processes, are provided by the crane’s infinite and stepless speed control, explains Konecranes. Other features of the crane design are its tilted drum and offset reeving, which also ensure smooth and accurate load handling, whilst eliminating peak rope forces to reduce the wear on reeving components, it adds.
The compact nature of the crane met ABB’s requirement for a heavy-duty lifting solution which did not take up too much room in the workshop, Konecranes says.
Show and shine
Italian electric pick and carry crane manufacturer JMG has not let Coronavirus dampen business. It seized the opportunity to attend one of the only crane events running in 2020: JDL in Beaune, France. The company used the show to deliver what it claims as the first electric revolving ‘carry-deck’ crane in France, which was bought lifting and transport company Ets. Lavenir, based in La Pacaudière.
JMG has also redesigned its MC70S model. The MC70S is a seven tonne capacity, three-boom section, remote-controlled crane. Updated electrical and hydraulic components means its capacity increases by one tonne over the MC60S model it supersedes. JDL says, thanks to its versatility, it is suitable for small industrial installations such as the positioning of air conditioners and small moulds as well as industrial maintenance.
JMG has a new USA-specific website (www.jmgcranesamerica.com) which it hopes will aid its expansion in the region.
Another Italian crane manufacturer at JDL was Jekko. At the show the manufacturer reached a landmark, supplying its French dealer ATN Platforms its 2,000th crane. ATN Platforms has taken the place of Fassi France as Jekko’s new dealer in the French market. The 2,000th crane was Jekko’s new SPX650 model – a five tonne capacity mini crane with a maximum lifting height of 23.5 metres and a maximum radius of 20 metres, with a jib.
Jekko has also established a new subsidiary in Germany: the company is called Jekko Deutschland and the company hopes it will give it a more widespread presence in German speaking areas.
Jekko has also extended the capabilities of its JF545 V-Max articulated crawler crane. It has added a jib compatible with a wide range of tools whose operation require an elevated quantity and pressure of oil – such as augers, grapple saws or clamshell buckets.
Treviso, Italy-based Jekko says an additional and independent hydraulic circuit with cooling radiator prevents oil overheating during operation and keeps a constant temperature even during intensive hydraulic use.
With the new jib, the JF545’s other application options – such as the work platform, the man basket, the vacuum manipulator for glazed panes, and the winch – all remain accessible. The JF545 can be seen in action here.
In distribution news, Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) has been appointed as the authorised distributor in West Africa for the Franna brand of pick and carry cranes owned by crane manufacturer Terex.
Paterson Simons will provide full coverage, including machine sales, spare parts and service support to the following territories: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone & Togo.
Headquartered in the UK with subsidiaries in West Africa, Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) is a lifting equipment specialist which serves the mining, port, oil and gas industries across the region. It also provides aftersales support and certified operator training.
Moving into realms of heavier industrial lifting, Western Canadian precast concrete manufacturer, Eagle Builders, is now using a total of five Shuttlelift rubber tyred gantry cranes at its yard in Alberta.
According to Shuttlelift, Eagle Builders is currently producing NU girders for various highway projects, which are some of the largest precast concrete products in the country, exceeding 55 metres in length and weighing more than 104 tonnes.
Eagle Builders says it chose Shuttlelift gantries due to the torsion flex they offered. “Once digging into the designs of different gantries, the Eagle Builders team liked Shuttlelift’s torsion flex in the crane’s corners,” explains Craig Haan, director at Eagle Builders. “When compared to other cranes, not having a rigid connection was an advantage. We felt that other designs may crack based on our undulating yard.
“Our Shuttlelift cranes are easy to operate and have been reliable over the years. They are able to help us move and store products more efficiently in the yard. As our company expands our yard has had to expand with us. Our Shuttlelift gantry cranes have helped us avoid process bottlenecks from stripping to storage.”
Propulsion specialist Schottel has invested €500,000 (around $612,000) in a new overhead crane system from Wetter, Germany-headquartered manufacturer Demag Cranes and Components. The new system is now in operation at Schottel’s Wismar, Germany, subsidiary.
The new system is designed to provide a faster and more efficient production process and replaces a system from 1979. It features two double-girder overhead travelling cranes, each with a load bearing capacity of 50 tonnes each. This is an increase of some 10 tonnes and is needed for the larger, longer and thus heavier products now being produced in Wismar. “The Wismar subsidiary focuses on the development and assembly of propulsion units for special purpose vessels,” explains Dr. Michael Potts, manager of the subsidiary. “Nowadays, these vessels are designed with larger dimensions and more power, which has an impact on the project planning for the propulsion units and their production.”
The crane system at Wismar features a synchronous mode. This means that the hoist, crab and crane trolleys can be controlled individually or synchronously by radio transmitter. This makes it possible to transport very heavy, long loads safely through the production hall, to turn them and to position them with precision in machine tools.
Remaining with overhead cranes, American construction material manufacture US Gypsum Co. has had a 20 tonne capacity overhead crane and hoist from R&M Materials Handling installed 122 metres underground at its Shoals Mine, Indiana site. The crane was sold to US Gypsum by Harriman Material Handling and installed by CraneWerks.
The top running double girder crane is being used to assemble and maintain equipment for the mine underground. It spans 11 metres and travels on a 19 metre long runway. According to R&M Materials, a top running crane was chosen because it offers the same hook height as a single girder crane, which would require a higher ceiling. The height available is important, says R&M Materials, because the hoist and trolley ride on top of the bridge girders rather than being suspended beneath the bridge girder. This gives the best hook height of any overhead bridge crane option, it says, giving users the maximum amount of lift available.
The shaft used to get equipment into the mine was too small for the 11 metre bridge beam to go down in one piece. To get around this, CraneWerks designed a bridge that was built in two pieces so it could fit down the narrow mine shaft before it was welded together at the bottom.
For moving heavy structures and assemblies between production stations, and during logistics handling, is the new ETR Electric Trolley from Enerpac. The company says it provides an operationally efficient alternative to traditional skidding methods.
It comprises electrically driven trolleys which can carry heavy loads horizontally along a fixed, guided track system. With a 500 kN (50 tonne) and 1,000 kN (100 tonne) capacity per trolley, load movements are more stable, says Enerpac, due to the continuous movement and ability to precisely control travel speed including acceleration and deceleration, offering a clean operation.
Enerpac says the system provides a safe and efficient method to move sensitive equipment and assemblies through production stations. The company says it is suited to repetitive movements and can be easily configured to accept a wide variety of load configurations. Moreover, travelling on guided low-profile tracks with controlled synchronisation eliminates risks of moving large loads at overhead height, Enerpac adds.
A typical ETR-Series system includes four trolleys, two tracks, and one controller. It operates at speeds up to 50 metres an hour loaded travel speed and 100 metres an hour unloaded or reset speed. The Trolley System provides automatic synchronisation of traveling with an accuracy of 10 mm. An operator has the ability to combine up to eight trolley units synchronised together.
The range of industrial lifting examples covered in this article gives some insight into the breadth of the industrial lifting sector. And although there is never a single solution to any lifting job, it is clear that the specific demands of the environment determine which types of lifting equipment are the best choice.
Faced with removing, and refitting, a five-tonne vessel cover in the tight confines of an industrial complex in Germany during maintenance shutdown, integrity assurance company Hydratight used a combination of Enerpac cube jack, a low-height skidding system and a turntable to complete the project.
A team of 40 Hydratight engineers from Germany, Holland, France, and the UK, operating under Covid-19 restrictions, was tasked with lifting vessel covers, performing on-site machining and controlled bolting on a number of vessels and heat exchanger joints, during a 45-day shutdown.
Following problems with the lifting system normally used to lower and lift the main vessel cover during maintenance, an alternative system was quickly sought. The plant’s operating conditions, and tight space restrictions prohibited the use of a forklift truck. Instead, the Hydratight team chose Enerpac cube jacks to provide a safe and synchronised lowering of the five-tonne vessel cover. Three cube jacks were used to lift and lower a frame supporting the cover.
The Enerpac low-height skidding, compact cube jack systems and turntable were supplied and operated by local German distributor Helissen.
The new division is called Mammoet Industrial Services and will operate out of Mammoet Northern USA’s existing Swedesboro, New Jersey branch location.
The equipment Mammoet Industrial Services has in its fleet includes a lightweight service crane, an LTM 1250 crane, and a route survey tool. Mammoet’s Lightweight Service Crane (LSC) was designed to be lightweight enough that it can be manually assembled in small or restrictive areas. It can be assembled manually for lifts up to six tonnes, and a hand-assembled derrick can be used to build a gantry for lifts up to 150 tonnes.